Tahlequah Ballet Performing Arts Academy owner Kim Huffman kicks off each new season with a key word, and this year, she plans to focus on happiness and happy endings.
Students step into this season with several changes, beginning with an open house, Saturday, Aug. 11 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The theme for the event – as well as the school’s Christmas production – is “Whoville.”
Kim Huffman, who owns Tahlequah Ballet with her husband, Greg, said the open house will be like Christmas in August.
“We are going to decorate our big studio with a ‘Whoville’ set and a Christmas tree,” said Huffman. “We are going to show scenes from the movie ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas,’ and have ‘Who’ snacks for the kids. It will be hot, but it will be fun to pretend it’s Christmas.”
Huffman said that the academy’s open house would mark the last time for those interested in taking classes to sign up without paying an enrollment fee.
“We have about 65 pre-enrolled students already, and we have room for 35 more,” said Huffman.
Tahlequah Ballet has performed “The Nutcracker” for the past five Christmas seasons, but this year, Huffman wanted to do something new and different. “Whoville,” which is based on Dr. Seuss’ characters and stories, will take the audience, as well as the students performing, to a new setting and celebration of the Christmas season.
According to Huffman, the costumes will be put together by the parents, and all performers will look unique in their own “Who” way. For this year’s Christmas production, parents will search the storage shop at Tahlequah Ballet to create their child’s costume.
Unlike “The Nutcracker,” which tells the story through ballet, Huffman said that “Whoville” will incorporate ballet, jazz and contemporary dance, as well as singing and acting.
“It will be different and fun for the kids,” she said.
The Christmas production will also be different and fun for the audience. Huffman said there will be some audience participation during the performance, although she did not go into details as to what that participation may be.
Huffman said “Whoville” will be staged at the NSU Jazz Lab, and the tentative date is Dec. 15.
Besides a change in the Christmas program, Tahlequah Ballet also has restructured its classes.
“Our classes will be grouped into age-appropriate classes,” Huffman said. “All three dance styles and some singing and acting will be taught. These classes are performance-based classes, focusing on performance.”
The reason for this change, according to Huffman, is to produce students who are well-rounded performers.
“Our focus is to get these kids on stage, here, as well as in the community,” said Huffman. “We stay community-focused with our students. We have worked with the community performing arts organizations in the past, and we’re always open to it. For example, we have had a lot of students who have worked with the Tahlequah Community Playhouse.”
Huffman said that young students begin in Wee 1 and 2, which she teaches, and are focused on ballet, tap, singing and role playing.
“I teach those kids still learning to sing, dance and act,” Huffman said.
Huffman is also offering several new classes this year. Junior Starz, ages 7-12, will teach several dance styles, singing and acting, all in one class.
Senior Starz, ages 13 and up, will learn even more dance styles. Both classes will be taught by Morgan Bozone.
Another program offered is Children’s Theater. Huffman said Natalie Morgan, an NSU graduate, is in charge of the academy’s children’s program.
“Those classes will really focus on acting and the technical aspects of theater, as well as diction, makeup and set design,” said Huffman. “Those students will have the speaking roles in ‘Whoville,’ while the other students will have the dancing parts.”
Although there are many new classes offered by Tahlequah Ballet, classical ballet classes will still be offered. These classes are taught by Phoebe Huffman, who is a certified “Vaganove,” or Russian ballet teacher.
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